Is the broadcast industry trapped in a perpetual state of flux?

03rd March 2020

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If you based your perception of the broadcast and production sector purely on a visit to NAB or IBC, the slew of new product releases and focus on technological innovation at these exhibitions would probably lead you to believe that this industry is quick to adopt new technology.  The truth, however, is that the rate of technology development in moving picture production and distribution is much faster than the rate of adoption, and most of the businesses that operate in this space are multiple versions behind the latest product releases and innovations.  For some this is an economic predicament – they simply can’t afford to keep up with the pace of development – while others choose not to upset the applecart if they have workflows that are running smoothly on their current infrastructure.   Whatever the reason, this imbalance means that suppliers and service providers not only have to keep our systems and services up to date with new formats, products and workflows, but also have to continue supporting legacy systems and processes – some of which are decades out of date.

The problem plays out differently depending on the specific part of the industry your business operates in, but for Take 1 it’s had the biggest impact on how we move media, create secure workflows and deliver our finished products;

Moving Media

We recently launched the Take 1 Cloud which, amongst other things, provides our clients with a simple and safe way to submit their media for transcription, translation or any of our other services.   This replaces our online upload system and we plan to roll it out over the course of the next year.  But, while we’re migrating the clients that currently use the online uploader to the cloud, we also still have to support a handful of customers that haven’t yet moved on from using our original, on-premises upload hardware, the T1000, to transcode and upload their media for transcription. 

 Creating Secure Workflows

Worldwide revenues lost to online television and movie piracy are expected to reach almost US$52 billion by 2022, so it’s understandable that most production houses and distributors now insist that their suppliers follow stringent security protocols.  Take 1 has been awarded the DPP’s Committed to Security marks for both broadcast and production and we’re in the process of completing our TPN accreditation to provide our clients with peace of mind in this regard.  But while security is paramount for some, other clients are more focussed on convenience and still prefer to share content via Dropbox, WeTransfer of Vimeo link with little regard for the risks.

Delivering final products 

For years now the industry has talked about the importance of metadata to drive efficiencies in everything from asset management to archiving and discoverability.  Our Liberty platform was developed to unlock the power of transcription data and help broadcasters leverage this data into workflows, but many of our clients still prefer to receive transcripts and post-production scripts as Word documents (which they then print out and use as hard copies.)

Supporting multiple workflows that span different technologies pushes operational costs up and efficiency down. The question is, is this state of flux an inherent part of the industry or just a temporary affliction?  If you’d asked us this question as recently as a few years ago we probably would have said that it’s the nature of the industry, but recent developments indicate that we may be moving to a point where workflows are no longer governed by technology upgrade cycles. 

The adoption of cloud-based workflows has already solved part of the problem, minimising the need for major software updates.  Software in the cloud is continuously improved with small iterations that aren’t disruptive or difficult to adapt to.  And, because updates don’t have to be manually implemented and are automatically applied, no-one is left behind in the upgrade cycle, so there’s no need for developers to support multiple versions of their products.  In the future, both the content and the software will be cloud-based , which will potentially make moving media unnecessary and make production workflows more secure.    For example, our vision for the Take 1 Cloud is that clients will give us access to their content in the cloud so that they don’t have to move their media to our platform to access our services. 

A move to a microservices architecture allows platforms to be configured quickly and easily using a host of self-contained functional components. This approach provides suppliers and customers with the ability to easily restructure parts of their workflows by simply swapping or rearranging these independent microservices without breaking the whole system.  Further efficiencies can be achieved by incorporating AI and automation into the process.  Microservice vendors don’t have to support entire bespoke systems and can focus instead on providing a library of components for clients to choose from, which could result in the current handful of super-providers being replaced with a broader base of specialists providing individual elements that can integrate into any system.

A microservice and cloud-based future where product updates are obsolete and workflow design is as simple as drag and drop, could be just what we need to change from a technology-led industry and become a technology-enabled one.  We just have to convince everyone to get on board. Until then, get in touch with Take 1 for high quality transcription, localisation and access services, regardless of what technology you’re using.